Despite the release of Office 2016 For Mac, there is still no Microsoft Publisher for Mac but you can open and edit Publisher files on Mac for free with some great alternatives or by using a little file conversion trick. Both ways are much easier and cheaper than installing Windows on your Mac in order to use the PC version of Publisher to edit MS Publisher .pub files. In fact, many alternatives to Publisher on Mac such as InDesign and Lucidpress are even better than Publisher itself. Many users that have used Publisher on Windows and later switched to Mac will tell you to forget about Publisher completely. Macs are actually far more geared towards Desktop Publishing (DTP) than PCs and there are many excellent alternatives to choose from both free and paid. Note you cannot access Publisher on your Mac via the online Cloud version of Microsoft Office 365. Publisher is only available on PC within Microsoft Office or by downloading Publisher separately for PC. First we’ll look at the best desktop publishing software alternatives to Windows Publisher and then we’ll look at a little trick to open and edit .pub files on Mac without needing to download any other software. If you need to OCR a document and then edit or import the text into one of these Publisher alternatives, we also recommend you read our guide to the Best OCR For Mac.

Publisher For Mac: Best Alternatives

This article is a combination of paid and best free alternatives to Publisher for Mac, the least expensive costing anything from $17.99 upwards. For most of them, you can download a free trial where available by clicking on the names.

Lucidpress (Free Single User. Basic $9.95/Pro $15.95/Team $40)

Lucidpress is from the makers of Lucidchart diagramming software (a popular Visio alternative for Mac) and is a user friendly online desktop publishing tool which means there’s no software to download and it works on any platform. Although paid plans are available, the basic single user version is a free alternative to Publisher although it can’t edit .pub files. Lucidpress is suitable for newsletters, magazines, posters, pamphlets and brochures. You can add dynamic, interactive elements to documents and it’s very easy to get creative with it and find your way around. Lucidpress is particularly good if you have to work on a newsletter or magazine as a team as there’s a team subscription model which supports from 5 to 300 users collaborating at once. There are various pricing plans and although it is free for single users, the free version only exports PDFs in screen (not print) quality and also leaves a watermark. You can try Lucidpress free for 15 days and there’s no need to give your credit card details until the trial is over and you want to continue using it. If you subscribe annually, you pay in one lump sum for the year but receive a 20% discount. There are also 50% discounts for non-profit organizations and free accounts for students and teachers. For a full overview of Lucidpress pricing plans, check the feature comparison chart. You can try Lucidpress instantly online now to get a feel for it too.
publisher for mac - lucidpress

You can also see a quick overview of some of the advantages and differences between Lucidpress and MS Publisher in this comparison chart:publisher for mac - lucidpress v publisher

You can see Lucidpress in action here:

Adobe InDesign (Free Trial) / Students & Teachers Get 60% Off

Adobe InDesign has rapidly overtaken Quark to be the industry standard DTP software for Mac. For anyone that’s familiar with Adobe products, it’s preferable to QuarkXPress because it’s integrated into the powerful Creative Suite which features Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver etc. However, like the rest of Creative Suite, the latest version of Adobe InDesign has moved to a monthly subscription model basis as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. An older version of InDesign from CS6 is available however without a monthly subscription. If you sign-up for a year, you pay $19.99 per month or if you just want to take it on monthly basis without an annual subscription, Abode InDesign is $29.99 per month. Both of these include 20GB of cloud storage. You can however still buy a standalone version of Adobe InDesign version CS6 with no monthly subscription model. There are also special prices for students, teachers and businesses.

publisher for mac - indesign

InDesign takes a long time to learn how to use properly but you can get an excellent overview of the basic here:

iStudio Publisher ($17.99 Mac App Store)

iStudio Publisher is an extremely user friendly and powerful alternative to Publisher on Mac. In fact, if cloud solutions like Lucidpress are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative to Publisher on Mac. iStudio Publisher produces very professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide. Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF. The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.

publisher for mac alternative - istudio publisher

For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced. And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac (they’re now available on Twitter too). If you want a user friendly alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a subscription and pay Adobe prices for software, iStudio Publisher is an excellent choice. And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free 30 day trial of iStudio Publisher before buying. You can see more of what iStudio Publisher for Mac can do here:

Swift Publisher ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Swift Publisher is a user friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac that’s become increasingly popular. It doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. It’s ideal for producing bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy. Like Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software (which we look at shortly), there are lots of professional looking templates which you can customize for your specific needs, it’s integrated with iPhoto and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF etc. There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started. If you want an easy to use alternative to Publisher without a steep learning curve, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option.

publisher for mac alternatives - swift publisher

You can see an excellent overview of all the things that Swift Publisher can do here:

LibreOffice (Free. OS X 10.8+. Also available on Mac App Store. Older version for OS X 10.6.8)

LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and is based on the popular free Office suite for Mac OpenOffice. As of version 4.0, LibreOffice is the only program to both open and edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although you can’t export to Publisher format yet. You can edit MS Publisher files using Draw which is LibreOffice’s loose equivalent to Publisher. As you can see from the example Publisher file imported into LibreOffice below, the interface isn’t as user friendly or as slick as Publisher but it does work. Also, the rest of the LibreOffice suite is incredibly powerful and is able to import and export almost all Microsoft Office formats perfectly well. If you’re looking for a Publisher alternative with an entire Office suite thrown in for good measure, LibreOffice is definitely worth checking out.

publisher for mac - libreoffice

You can see LibreOffice in action below – here demonstrated in Linux but the Mac version is exactly the same.

Publisher Plus (Free Lite Version or $19.99 Mac App Store)

It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Pages but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use. The Lite version of Publisher Plus allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to pay $19.99 from the Mac App Store to unlock the entire app. One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit unintuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different way. Publisher Plus is as a result now one of the most popular alternatives to Publisher on Mac available but there are disadvantages. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact – but the quality of them isn’t quite as good as in Pages. There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows. That said, if you compare it to MS Publisher, it actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade. However, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement or flyers, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publisher for Mac.

publisher for mac - publisher plus

You can see some of what Publisher Plus can do and watch a useful tutorial about how to create a flyer using it here:

Pages ($19.99 Mac App Store)

Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and part of Apple’s iWork suite. It does both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you’ll never pine for Microsoft Publisher again after trying Pages. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works. Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.

publisher for mac alternatives - pages

You can watch a handy tutorial about what Pages for Mac can do here:

Scribus (Free)

Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more. I has plenty of templates to choose from including Brochures, Newsletters and Posters. The main toolbar across the top provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be more exact with your designs. However, since it’s a free open source project, Scribus isn’t updated very often and you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems. If you want a free alternative to Publisher on Mac though, and have time study the extensive user guide, Scribus is a very powerful DTP program.

publisher for mac - scribus

You can watch a quick tutorial of how to get up and going with Scribus quickly here:

QuarkXPress (Free Trial. $349 Full Version)

QuarkXPress is probably the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software on the market. It has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, Magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for an alternative to Publisher, it’s a bit of an overkill. However, if you’re intending to do more professional DTP work, then QuarkXPress is worth looking at. 20 years ago Quark used to the industry standard DTP program on Mac but has gotten increasingly slow, bloated and buggy over the years. As a result, it’s also lost market share to Adobe’s InDesign which forms part of Adobe Creative Suite. QuarkXPress is also quite complicated to learn for beginners but if you want to get really professional with publishing, it’s still one of he most powerful DTP programs you can get on Mac.

publisher for mac - quarkxpress

You can see QuarkXpress in action and learn what’s new in the latest version here:

How To Open Publisher On Mac For Free Without Software

There is no way to directly open Publisher .pub files on Mac apart from importing them into LibreOffice (see top of this list). However, you can get round this by:

a) Asking the sender to export the .pub files to a different format. This requires the sender to open the .pub files on Publisher in Windows and then export them to a different format that can be opened on Mac. Just go to FileExport Change File Type in Publisher and select the desired format.

open publisher file on mac - export

b) If this is not an option for you, you can convert the .pub files online using an online converter such as Zamzar.

publisher for mac - zamzar convert fileIf you just need to read the .pub files, then exporting to PDF like this is sufficient. If you need to edit the document too, read on.

How To Edit Publisher On Mac For Free

If you want to actually edit the .pub files and you’ve already got Microsoft Word or another desktop publishing software installed, then exporting it to RTF format will allow you to edit it in most Word Processing applications. Microsoft Word for Mac can be transformed into a basic version of Microsoft Publisher if you go to View and then Publishing Layout View. This turns Word into a basic DTP software and is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Publisher on Mac. Update: Please note this tip does not work in the new version of Office 2016 for Mac. Microsoft has removed the Publishing Layout View in Word 2016 For Mac. It only works up to Office 2011 for Mac. However, almost all other desktop publishing applications can open RTF files.
publisher for mac - word for mac


We’re sure that by using one of the solutions or alternatives featured here you can live without Publisher on your Mac. Lucidpress still remains the easiest and cheapest alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac although if you need something more complete, iStudio Publisher is incredibly powerful, easy to use and value for money.

However, if none of them are what you’re looking for and you simply must have Publisher on your Mac, then we recommend our guide on Best Way To Run Windows On Mac so that you can have the best of both worlds. You can install Windows on your Mac either by using a virtual machine such as Parallels or by using Boot Camp to install Windows on a partition on your Mac. Both have their problems when it comes to running Windows software such as Publisher on a Mac though and we recommend you use one of the alternatives covered in this article.

If this article has interested you, you may also find our look at alternatives to other Microsoft software such as Access for Mac, Project for Mac and Visio for Mac useful too.

If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes for Mac, let us know in the comments below.

About The Author

MacHow2 is devoted to helping you get the most of of your Mac. We're passionate about all things Mac and OS X and we've helped thousands of users both young and old with problems and issues they've had with their Mac. If you've got any comments about this article or review, get involved by leaving a comment below.

69 Responses

  1. Dorothy jones

    This is an EXCELLENT article on Mac versions of Publisher! I’ve been struggling with the decision as to whether to buy or not to buy new Pubisher version, run with Parallels, but have heard pros & cons against it. You are so right–I used the Publishing layout view in MS Word 2011 which I’ve never done, and it works great. I was preparing a tri-fold brochure, used a great template, recolored it to match my theme colors and so far, so good.

    This is an easy-to-understand, self explanatory article that helped me make up my mind to stick with Mac software and as you so aptly stated it, I will leave the world of Publisher behind!!!

    Thanks so much for taking time to explain Mac options in user friendly terms!!!

    • Mac How

      Thanks Dorothy for your kind comments. It’s really great to get feedback like this and that the post helped you so much. Please remember to share it with friends on Facebook and Twitter so that it may help others too.

    • R. Evans

      I agree with Dorothy J. This article is a great read: well constructed, informative, easy to follow. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Very helpful.

  2. Dorothy jones

    I did purchase Printfolio Bundle and Swift Publisher 3, but I will admit that it is not as easy as Publisher to navigate. I got so frustrated, trying to put together a tri-fold brochure, (time sensitive) that I returned to a MS Word (for Mac) template to finish project. I don’t have lots of time to be a “student” of new software, so not sure this will keep me away from MS Pubisher. We’ll see!

  3. Alvin

    I am thinking of going to a Mac and was curious about my MS Publisher files and potentially switching to Mac DTP program. Your information was extremely helpful in assisting me in my decision. Thanks for the great information.

  4. Shaunda

    So I hate to sound slow but is there no way to open and edit Publisher files on teh MAC?

    • MacHow2

      I’m afraid the best you’ll get is using Word as described at the beginning of the post above. Otherwise, you’ll have to use an alternative.

  5. Samuel Yuen

    if i use pages to do my work, can i reopen the files in a windows 7 OS without downloading Pages ??

  6. Micheal Ranviv

    Great list… I have used the free 30 days trial version of flipb product that is specialized for Mac and its really good to use…..

  7. Karol

    Walt thanks so much for the article! It is just what I needed. I am transitioning from PC to Macbk and I am struggling a bit. Publisher is something I have had to work with a great deal and having some options to look at are very much appreciated! I should be fine overall as I have iPhone and iPad for years, just need to more fully take the leap now.

  8. Chelsie

    HI, The only reason I need to use publisher on my Mac is to create the curved text from the Wordart function. I use it in my family tree artwork designs that you can view on my website attached if you would like to see what I mean…
    I was going to try and find a friend with Windows 7 to install using bootcamp. The friendly guy at JB Hi Fi suggested this today…! Is this the best way to go or is there a program/app on the mac that will create curved text? Thanks Chels

  9. Bill

    Great article! How about iStudio? Any feedback on that?

    • MacHow2

      Hi Bill, Glad it helped you. iStudio is excellent, especially if you’re not very familiar with Desktop Publishing Programs. It has lots of easy to follow tutorials for beginners and produces very professional results.

  10. Junzl

    Helpful review!

    But which of the listed programs are compatible for Mac and for Microsoft?

    • MacHow2

      Thanks and glad it helped you! Of the programs reviewed, Microsoft Word, QuarkXPress and Adobe In-Design all work on both Mac and PC.

  11. NotAMac

    Libre Office – Draw opens and edits Publisher files directly in Mac and Linux

  12. Candy

    So, what format do I save the Publisher file in so I can open in InDesign?

  13. Cat Marusich

    What would be the best program to create a custom map that I can publish to the web? I would like to be able to draw a beautiful map (not by hand) and make it interactive (probably by using a program like mapsalive on the web unless there is a capability to do it in a program that you suggest).

    I also need to make a custom search box for my website that has drop downs and buttons. I have already created the custom links, I just need the html box to control it, and would like to design it myself.

    The more affordable, the better. Thank you in advance!

  14. Gina

    Are all of these programs able to handle a 200 page book with text and photos? I don’t want to start something only to find out halfway into it that it can’t handle the amount of pages. Thanks in advance.

  15. Alma

    This is exactly the kind of help I needed. I’m sick of being on the $Adobe$ InDesign bandwagon and needed to understand where my alternatives lay. Thank you for such an in-depth article.

  16. joyerolfe

    Okaay Here Goes…..I Need Clipart [Gasp] Yes I said it! Please – for Calendars, Birthdays, Holidays – A Foundation I Am Organizing

  17. The Best CAD Software For Mac

    […] software on Mac than PC, the tide is slowly changing. Macs have traditionally been more popular for Desktop Publishing Software than CAD but there’s plenty available now and the main problem you’ll have is choosing […]

  18. Lee

    What a thoughtful and amazingly helpful article. Thank you so very much! I am still unsure of what I’ll do, but knowing that there is someone out there who understands is a reassuring feeling. Thank you for taking the edge off my worries!

  19. Becky

    I have used windows (publisher) for years as a teacher. I just purchased a Mac and so disappointed it does not support publisher. I need an easy alternative – of the ones listed which one is most similar to publisher. Maybe I should return and get a windows pc.

    • MacHow2

      Becky, There’s no need to get a Windows PC. If you want an easy Publisher like alternative, any of LucidPress, Swift Publisher or iStudio Publisher will suit you.

  20. Amanda

    Thanks so much for this helpful article! I’ve been going around and around all day looking for a solution, and you explained everything. Much appreciated!

  21. Polly

    I wonder if you can help me, Ive read your very informative article but still have questions. I am considering buying my daughter a mac book pro for her A level coursework but she uses Publisher at school and would need to work on the documents on her Mac. Would she be better off with a windows laptop?? She will need to switch between school pc and Macbook easily for the next two years with her publisher coursework files. What do you think?

    • MacHow2

      Hi Polly, We could never recommend to anyone buying a PC whatever their needs 🙂 Once you’ve used a Mac, you’ll soon see the benefits in terms of reliability, ease of use, no need for virus protection and less problems in general than using Windows. The best thing in her case would be to install Parallels on the Mac which enables her to run Windows on the Mac. She can then install Microsoft Publisher within this. This will cost a few hundred pounds extra for both the Parallels software and a copy of Windows to install, but it will save her a lot of hassle in the long run dealing with problems with Windows or a PC. Then she can enjoy the best of both worlds 🙂

      • neilhocking

        Or ring up the school, tell them to ditch Publisher and get a grown up program like InDesign which will prepare kids for the real world of DTP 🙂

      • MacHow2

        Good point but probably more expensive for the school I suspect. If she’s going to pursue desktop publishing in the future, Neil is right though – a Mac will stand her in far better stead after her A-levels too than a PC.

      • Polly

        Ive emailed the school …… this space! We have and iMac and iPads at home so know how good they are. It makes sense for her to have a Macbook but the only stumbling block is Publisher. It looks as though I will have to invest in the Parallels software.
        Many thanks for your help. The Apple Store were not very helpful, although they suggested I go to a forum to get advice!

      • MacHow2

        Ok let us know what happens! Surprised that Apple didn’t at least suggest using virtualization software such as Parallels to run Windows on a Mac but the advice you get from Genius Bars sometimes depends on who is serving you it seems.

      • Polly

        Hi all, so I bought the MacBook on Saturday from the Apple Store but they were not able to help me with the software issue unfortunately. I went to PC World and found two very helpful guys who advised me the best way forward was indeed to download Parallels, then load Windows and then Publisher. PC World had a bundle offer so Parallels and Windows was £119 and Microsoft Office 365 was £49.99. I’m delighted to say I loaded everything up on Saturday evening and all went without a hitch. My daughter is delighted and she can work on her coursework on Publisher at home and at school.
        Thank you for all your help and support.

      • MacHow2

        That’s great to hear and glad we could help! If you have any other problems or issues using your Mac, let us know!

  22. Sarah

    Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been working for years in Publisher and on a PC and am switching to Mac this week. I have hundreds of documents that I need to transfer over to a Mac DTP program. This article has been the most comprehensive and helpful that I’ve seen anywhere. You’ve helped my stress levels immensely!

    I’m thinking of opening the .PUB docs in LibreOffice and then saving as a Mac friendly doc that I can then use and edit in one of the other programs you mentioned. From your review above, I’m debating between iStudio Publisher, Pages and Publisher Plus. Does that sound like the best option for converting?

    Thanks again, so much, for posting this helpful article!

    • MacHow2

      Sarah, Glad the article helped you! As regards your question, you could do exactly that – open the .pub files in LibreOffice and then save them in a format that can be opened by iStudio, Pages, Publisher Plus etc. Our advice would be to download LibreOffice for Mac and try opening your .pub files first to make sure it opens the file correctly before purchasing one of the Publisher alternatives for Mac featured here.

  23. Jackie

    Hi all. Last fall I got my new Mac Mini and am now finally getting ready to do two major projects. Have you looked at how these various programs will work on El Capitan? (I just got a new mini with El Capitan!)

    • MacHow2

      All of them should work on El Capitan as most developers have now had enough time to update their software for it. Those that are in the Mac App Store state clearly in the minimum operating system requirements if they do or not. For the rest, it’s of course always best to check the developer website first to make sure.

  24. Jackie

    Thanks. I am sorry that I phrased my question so poorly. I am wondering how the upgrades with El Capitan and with the software (to run on El Capitan) have changed how they work together? Better, worse, the same? I have noticed (can’t remember which ones right now) that some software that was supposed to run on El Capitan have some glitches. This happens to me every time there is an upgrade somewhere.

    I just re-downloaded LibreOffice and am having some issues the the program freezing and crashing. I had stopped using it for that reason and went with Open Office. Thought I would try it again, based on recommendations from a friend.

    • MacHow2

      The problem with open source solutions like Libre Office and Open Office is that they are often slow to update to the latest versions of OSX. If you buy one of the other apps listed in this article, the developer is more likely to update the app quickly when new versions of OSX are released. However, even then it can take some time for them to catch up and update the app.


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